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VW Jetta Hybrid unveiled at 2012 Detroit show

Mon, 09 Jan 2012

Volkswagen unveiled its second hybrid production car at the 2012 Detroit auto show: the new Jetta Hybrid, which goes on sale in November 2012.

The hybrid Jetta is aimed predominantly at the north American market, although it is likely to be sold in other markets over the coming years.

VW Jetta Hybrid: the technical lowdown

The first hybrid from Wolfsburg was the VW Touareg, co-developed with Porsche and Audi. This one is much more eco-minded, mixing VW's 148bhp 1.4 TSI petrol engine with a 20kW electric motor.

Volkswagen claims this hybrid is around a fifth more economical than a regular Jetta 1.4 TSI. It quotes an (American) 45mpg combined average consumption, but says it's around 30% more economical in urban usage.

There's also an EV switch to allow pure electric running at low speeds below 44mph. In optimum conditions, you might even travel 1.3 miles if you gaffer tape an eggshell to the accelerator.

Downsizing to the max for the US!

Indeed. Much of the chat at Detroit was defending the 1.4 TSI engine in the Jetta Hybrid. American buyers will be suspicious of something with just 1395cc, but every major player in the US is hellbent on downsizing.

VW points out this compact, 98kg engine actually has more power than the 2.5-litre five-cylinder already offered in the Jetta Stateside.

The Jetta Hybrid sends its drive through VW's seven-speed twin-clutch DSG transmission. An extra decoupling clutch totally disengages the engine from the drivetrain when in full zero-emissions EV mode. This 'sailing' mode is also deployed even when you back off at motorway speeds, letting you cruise silently at up to 84mph.

It's worth noting the tech in the Jetta Hybrid, as this is what we'll see in European hyrbids too. The batteries are lithium ion and stored behind the rear seat; they're relatively small batteries and have a 1.1kWh energy capacity, adding 36kg to the kerbweight.

The 2012 VW Jetta Hybrid weighs less than 1500kg, says Volkswagen.

By Tim Pollard